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Posted 27.06.17

Plymouth College of Art broadens international horizons

By Lauren Taverner Brown

Plymouth College of Art's Painting, Drawing and Printmaking studio

Over the last 12 months Plymouth College of Art has more than doubled the number of opportunities for international exchanges for staff and students, giving them an exciting chance to travel and experience learning, creating and teaching that is educationally, philosophically and culturally enriching, as well as welcoming international students and staff to create, learn and teach in Plymouth.

With a strong belief in the importance of providing an academic experience which broadens horizons for both students and staff, the college has a number of international partnerships and projects in place that connect us to renowned institutions all over the world. 

Most recently, we are proud to announce new international relationships that include an Erasmus+ bilateral agreement with Design Academy Eindhoven — one of the most renowned design schools in the world — and a new exchange programme with Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, Canada’s most prestigious art school.

“This exciting new collaboration with Emily Carr University is a reflection of the distance the college has travelled, not only in geographical terms, but in the international reach of our recognition in the UK, Europe and beyond.”

- Ian Farren, Associate Dean of Academic Development & Head of the Graduate School and International

Workshops in progress at L'École de design Nantes Atlantique. Image courtesy of Cathryn Bishop, Programme Leader on Plymouth College of Art's BA (Hons) Interior Decoration, Design & Styling

Design Academy Eindhoven

The college’s new Erasmus+ bilateral agreement with Design Academy Eindhoven will give students and staff the opportunity to apply for a period of study or teaching, with space for two students to undertake a four-month placement, and for two teachers on week-long (5 day) exchanges.

The window for student applications for the Spring semester will be open between 15 October - 1 November 2017. The college will welcome the first student from Eindhoven onto the 3D Design Crafts programme in September. Despite the UK’s decision to leave the EU, Erasmus+ funding is guaranteed until 2020 so European exchanges through the scheme will continue to offer thousands of people across the UK the chance to study, train or volunteer abroad.

“The whole exchange experience in Nantes was hugely enriching. I will definitely be passing on some of the learning about the programmes the design students use, and how well the week-long workshop runs as a setup.”

- Cathryn Bishop, Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Interior Decoration, Design & Styling

With around 25 incoming students on other Erasmus+ agreements from countries including Norway, Czech Republic, Spain, France, Germany and Belgium, Plymouth College of Art not only supports students to spend time learning and making in partner institutions, but also encourages staff to broaden horizons and make new connections by going on exchanges.

Cathryn Bishop, Programme Leader for the college’s recently launched BA (Hons) Interior Decoration, Design & Styling degree travelled to France to spend a week at L'ecole de Design in Nantes as part of their international design week.

She spent the week teaching workshops on interior design and said; “The whole experience was hugely enriching, and it was fascinating to teach in a different institution and to meet students from Nantes, but also from Japan, China, Italy and Turkey and learn a bit about how they are taught. I will definitely be passing on some of the learning from there about the programmes the design students use, and how well the week-long workshop runs as a setup.”

River Cup, a piece by Emily Carr University student Katelyn Mikkola

Alongside continually expanding horizons through Erasmus+, Plymouth College of Art has independently established international relationships known as Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with some of the world’s most highly regarded art schools, including Wuzhou University, Guangxi Arts University and Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in China. 

The college will welcome students from China on an Arts and English Language Summer School in July 2017. Support for visiting students without English as their first language not only includes a Pre-Sessional language programme through Open Doors International Language School but extends throughout their study, up until the point that they submit their Contexts of Practice thesis, allowing students to write reflectively and effectively communicate complex dissertation ideas. 

Further to the extensive language support, the college also has a relationship with Clever Student Lets in Plymouth, who are able to help find short term tenancy agreements for incoming overseas students, as well as offering six-month tenancies for students going on Erasmus+ exchanges.

"I love that the studios at Plymouth College of Art are open to students specializing in other disciplines, and that all students are encouraged to take advantage of the different facilities available."

- Katelyn Mikkola, exchange student from Emily Carr University

Emily Carr University: the most prestigious art school in Canada

The recently agreed MOU with Emily Carr University will allow students enrolling at Plymouth College of Art the opportunity to spend a semester in Vancouver, tapping into a new creative network and community that will have a lasting positive impact on their course and their career.  This year the college welcomed the first exchange student from Emily Carr University to join the BA (Hons) Ceramics and Glass degree.

Katelyn Mikkola, a Fine Arts major with a focus on ceramics, said: “What initially drew me to Plymouth College of Art was the opportunity to work with glass, a material that Emily Carr University does not have the facilities for. One of the biggest differences between studying at Plymouth College of Art and Emily Carr University is how interwoven the courses are here. I love that the studios are open to students specialising in other disciplines and that students are encouraged to take advantage of all of the different facilities available."

This autumn, Plymouth College of Art BA (Hons) 3D Design Crafts student Rachel Ronnie will travel to Vancouver to spend a term at Emily Carr University. She said, “I applied for the exchange after my tutor directly advised me to. I've always liked the idea of studying abroad and when I heard there was an opportunity in Vancouver, I thought it would be a great chance to see a bit of the world whilst studying at a specialist university.

"Following my current style of working at Plymouth College of Art, I hope to continue to combine digital processes with traditional ways of working, and I’m looking forward to being the first cohort of students to use the new campus, where I hear they have state of the art studios. I'm hoping that being in a completely new environment will inspire my creative practice, and maybe even inspire me to chase more opportunities like this one.”

Speaking of the college’s MOU with Emily Carr University and the college’s international horizons, Ian Farren, Plymouth College of Art’s Associate Dean of Academic Development and Head of the Graduate School and International, said, “This exciting new collaboration with Emily Carr University has become a reality, and is a reflection of the distance the college has travelled, not only in geographical terms, but in the international reach of our recognition in the UK, Europe and beyond.”

BA (Hons) 3D Design Craft student Rachel Ronnie working in the studio at the college